Reviews & features: Comedy

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Austentatious: An Improvised Novel

10 Aug 20144 stars

A cannily entertaining period improv show in the style of Jane Austen

Plenty of improv, particularly long-form like this, easily becomes meandering and flabby if you take it on a journey where literally anything can happen. But they're a canny lot Austentatious: not only does performing improv in the style of Jane Austen…

Harvey, Garvey and The Kane

10 Aug 20144 stars

Exquisitely executed antics delivered with energy and commitment

Three comedians all lacking in dignity / In a darkened room where we lay our scene / From ancient comedy format breaks new sketches / Where new Shakespearean laughs are gleaned. In a rapid-fire onslaught of superlative sketch comedy Stephen Harvey…

Bridget Christie: An Ungrateful Woman

10 Aug 20144 stars

Gravitas with giggles by the barrel load at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Most comedians think they’ve got something important to say. But sitting in front of Bridget Christie, you get the sense that something fairly seismic is happening. In her own small way, she is handing women a set of empowering tools, opening men’s eyes…

A Split Decision

10 Aug 20143 stars

Referendum debate as divorce comedy best taken as the bit of fun it’s meant to be

With so many commentators discussing the forthcoming independence referendum as a marriage in crisis, comedian Keir McAllister’s decision to stage the debate in a Relate consulting room makes a lot of sense. Inspired by Stanley Odd’s song, Marriage…

Laurence Clark: Moments of Instant Regret

10 Aug 20143 stars

Much to enjoy in humourous show with clever twist

We all have regrets in life. But Laurence Clark has so much of his own share that he can get a full hour out of his Moments of Instant Regret. Among the swathe of cringeworthy incidents that presumably have him waking up in the night in a cold sweat are…

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Robin and Partridge: Robin Dies at the End of the Show

10 Aug 20143 stars

Rabid enthusiasm teeters in edge of awfulness on too many occasions undermining excitable energy

As obviously unlikely as it would be in the real world, subtlety is the middle name of neither Robin Clyfan nor Charlie Partridge. Theirs was a double-act show with a vague story running through it which teetered on the edge of awfulness on far too many…

Dane Baptiste: Citizen Dane

10 Aug 20143 stars

Comedian delivers moments of ingenuity in show with more potential than impact

Alongside Craig David, Dane Baptiste is one of the few successful things to have its roots in Grenada. But the comedian will hear nothing negative about the man who will be forever entrenched in the UK psyche as the chief target of ridicule in Bo…

Amy G: Entershamement

10 Aug 20144 stars

Brooklyn cabaret star provides one of the most feel-good experiences around at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

Anyone suffering from festival fatigue can look no further than Amy G. Entershamement is one of the most feel good experiences you could have. The cabaret star from Brooklyn blends slapstick humour, a fantastic voice and some very special talents to…

Glenn Wool: Wool's Gold

10 Aug 20144 stars

Twenty years of grief and jokes in a candid show that keeps just the right side of offensive

Jokes have not made Glenn Wool happy. They haven’t made him famous or rich. They have decimated his relationships and stunted his chances of being a father. This is a shame because jokes are one thing he is very good at. Still, we learn about his woes…

Hennessy and Friends: Murmurs

10 Aug 20142 stars

Childish, rough, and repetitive material from critically lauded group

In all aspects but the energy of its eponymous frontwoman, this is an extremely weak showing from the critically lauded Hennessy (Miranda) and Friends (David Seymour and Steven Shapland). Unrecognisable from their poster quotes and past reviews (they…

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What Does The Title Matter Anyway?

10 Aug 20143 stars

A sentimental journey into improv from team behind 90s TV show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Last year, a new series of the 1990s comedy fixture Whose Line is it Anyway? was commissioned. This year, either the cast have reunited to recreate the magic or several aging comedians are throwing themselves about (fragile hips be-damned) to emulate a…

Lucy Beaumont: We Can Twerk It Out

10 Aug 20143 stars

Not enough material or structure on show despite being genuinely engaging and likeable

Some people you really want to like and Lucy Beaumont is most definitely one of them, she walks on stage and immediately catches you with her bright eyed look and distinctly accented tones. Lucy you see is from Hull a fact that is integral for the…

Sam Avery: Rock and Dole

10 Aug 20143 stars

Absorbing autobiographical and hilarious insight into hidden world of rock'n'roll

Dispatches from the frontline of rock'n'roll. At the age of 15 Sam Avery and three of his pals formed a band. After mulling over some frankly ridiculous ideas they finally called themselves dHb (far better than one early suggestion: 'Techno Pussy…

Minor Delays

10 Aug 20143 stars

Well-constructed Fringe show from young act specializing in stripped-back sketch comedy

A recent past of endless student revues is evident with the on-stage ease and well-honed timing of former Cambridge Footlighters Harry Michell (last seen in 2013’s breakneck costume-change belter Dressing Down) and Abi Tedder plus their Leeds Tealights…

Marlon Davis: Once Upon A Grime

10 Aug 20142 stars

Energetic personality barely covers cracks in foundations of a wobbly and familiar set

Opening with the claim that he doesn’t like the title of his show nor does it have any bearing on the content, Marlon Davis’ megawatt smile, infection enthusiasm and dynamic delivery seem auspicious. Then comes the tired old excuse that his manager made…

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Justin Hamilton: Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994

10 Aug 20142 stars

Highly amicable company fails to make impact with ill-aimed lines

Words can be used as weapons, skewering society and its ills with strategically chosen phrases for a successfully potent, perhaps even offensive routine. This Australian comic tackles the battleground of the stage in a far less confrontational style…

Ellie Taylor: Elliementary

10 Aug 20143 stars

Debut littered with comic gems that hops back and forth across the feminist line

Word of mouth has spread so quickly about Ellie Taylor’s debut Fringe show that the tiny venue is standing room only. This reviewer was lucky enough to get a seat literally at her feet, with an excellent view of her footwear and in the splash zone for…

Nish Kumar: Ruminations on the Nature of Subjectivity

10 Aug 20144 stars

Intelligent, informed, scattershot stand-up

Nish Kumar's new relationship has brought about a whole other level of understanding about his personality thanks to having someone around to point out how pessimistic, self-centred and egotistical he is. Other people have suggested that he shouldn't…

Neel Kolhatkar in GENeration comedY

10 Aug 20142 stars

Disappointing Fringe debut of observational comedy from 20-year-old

On the back of modest Youtube success with observational videos about his life in contemporary Australia, Neel Kolhatkar makes a disappointing Fringe debut. Drawing on similar content to that of his videos, he offers a mix of personal anecdotes and…

Ria Lina: School of Riason

10 Aug 20143 stars

Thoughtful and likeable show exploring modern education makes the grade

For a wide variety of reasons (some of which sound truthful, others are purely for the purposes of a gag), Ria Lina decided to home-school her three kids. This is the story of how and why she took that major task on board. After a shaky start featuring…

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Imran Yusuf: Roar of the Underdog

10 Aug 20143 stars

Satirical rant that’s both mature and non-preachy

Since he was last at the Fringe in 2011 tackling the image of Muslims in the West, Imran Yusuf has shed the shiny suits, moved to a more intimate venue and upped the ante on political and social issues. Born in Africa to Indian parents, Yusuf was raised…

Frank Skinner: Man In A Suit

10 Aug 20143 stars

Safe shocks from a well-dressed man

Man in a Suit, the title of Frank Skinner’s show, reveals Ronseal-like levels of hidden meaning. He’s a man. He usually wears a suit. This minimal effort and come-as-you-are philosophy informs his entire set. OK, there’s a short bit about selling his…

Bec Hill in... Ellipsis

10 Aug 20144 stars

The pint-sized Australian dynamo deserves an award for this Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy show

Bec Hill bounds on stage and executes a delightful mime that is almost as adorable as The Boy with Tape on his Face at his most charming. Bec Hill delivers painstakingly constructed puns that will have you eagerly committing them to memory to test out…

Steen Raskopoulos: I'm Wearing Two Suits Because I Mean Business

10 Aug 20144 stars

A carefully crafted set of character comedy and audience interaction at the Edinburgh Fringe

Rarely have I witnessed an audience respond so readily to enforced participation than during this wonderfully unpredictable performance from Australian newcomer Steen Raskopoulos. An offbeat character comic with an improv background, his show unfolds…

Mark Nelson: Please Think Responsibly

10 Aug 20143 stars

The comedian has wondrous images tucked up his barbed sleeve at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Still a spritely 33-year-old, Mark Nelson nevertheless feels the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. Now married and with a young daughter, he reminisces about his carefree teenage days, yet even with this youthful audience, it’s telling that he…